It’s beginning to feel a lot like winter in Delaware. You’d like to keep warmer, but that means using more power in your home and more gas in your car – and having less money in your pocket. To tip that balance in your favor, the DNREC Division of Energy and Climate offers the following tips to help you use less energy and save more money this winter – and in some cases, year-round.
· Set thermostat/heater temperatures lower at night and during the day when no one is home. Turn the heat down an hour before bedtime or before leaving the house; when turning the heat up, do not turn it above its usual setting to warm the house faster.
· Instead of turning up the heat, put on a sweater or warmer socks, and keep throws or blankets on the couch for television and video games. Use warm winter bedding – flannel sheets, warm blankets, comforters or quilts – to keep the family comfortable with the house cooler at night. Snuggle up and save money.
· Pull shades or curtains at night to help keep cold out and open them during the day to let sun in.
· To feel warmer and alleviate dryness, increase home humidity using an energy-efficient humidifier or by evaporating water in containers on woodstoves, radiators or heat vents.
· Make sure all your windows are completely closed and latched. Check doors and windows for drafts and add weatherstripping if needed. A rolled-up towel makes a good temporary measure.
· Check to make sure your water heater and hot water pipes are well-insulated; if not, add pipe insulation or wrap-around insulation. Turn down temperature on the water heater by 10 degrees to save energy.
· To save water and the cost of heating it, install flow-restrictors on faucets and shower heads.
· To make your home warmer next winter, take notes now and plan home improvement projects for spring and summer, such as adding insulation, caulking cracks, or replacing your old hot water heater or furnace with a more energy efficient model.
· Adding a programmable thermostat to your home’s HVAC system will allow you to set day and night temperatures automatically.
· Reduce heating in unoccupied areas and, if possible, close off rooms with the greatest northern exposure. Make family-gathering places in sunny or southern-facing rooms.
· To reduce energy usage inside your home, turn off or unplug any appliances or electronic devices (such as computers) when they are not in use. Turn off lights when not in use.
· When using the oven, plan to cook three or four items at a time for the same cost as one – and choose a day when everyone is home to enjoy the extra warmth and good scents in the kitchen.
· Set your refrigerator at 38 to 40 degrees and your freezer at 10 degrees.
· Run the washing machine or dishwasher only with full loads, and use warm water to wash and cold to rinse.
· Use the dryer only for full loads, and separate loads into heavy and lightweight items to avoid using the machine longer than necessary to dry each type. Dry in consecutive loads; once the dryer is warm, it cuts down on initial energy consumption.
· If you have a clothesline, hang laundry outside in dry weather. Use a drying rack inside for small or delicate items, or in bad weather.
· If purchasing new or replacing older appliances, such as heaters, refrigerators, etc., look for the Energy Star rating.
· Save gas by improving your driving habits: accelerate from stops slowly, drive at moderate, steady speeds, and avoid unnecessary braking by coasting to red lights and anticipating traffic speed changes.
· Avoid idling as much as possible, including sitting in the car to keep warm and “warming up” the car in the morning. Idling wastes fuel and creates air pollution, so bundle up and be patient for heat when you hit the road.
· Schedule oil and filter changes and other recommended maintenance to keep your vehicle operating efficiently. Check tire pressure often; under-inflated tires decrease fuel efficiency.
· Drive fewer miles and save gas by planning those Saturday errands in the shortest circular route starting and ending at home, instead of traveling in random directions or making several trips. Plan for errands during the week such as picking up a few grocery items along the route you take home from work or school.
· Combine car trips with family, friends or neighbors, join a carpool or use public transportation if available.
· Smaller cars with smaller engines typically get better fuel mileage, so if you have more than one vehicle, use the smaller one more – and, when shopping for a new vehicle, consider size and fuel efficiency.
For more information on the Delaware Division of Energy and Climate and its programs, including the online Energy Savers Guide, call 302-735-3480, or visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy .